Basque leader banned from elections

Arnaldo Otegi.

Basque independence activist Arnaldo Otegi has been banned from running as a candidate in an upcoming regional election in the Spanish-controlled Basque Country. An electoral authority ruled on August 24 that Otegi, who was released from jail in March, could not run as a candidate for left-wing Basque party EH Bildu due to a conviction of alleged links to terrorism.

Otegi was jailed by the Spanish state over his involvement in a political party accused of having ties with ETA, which waged an armed struggle against the Spanish state. ETA has declared a permanent ceasefire. EH Bildu, of which Otegi is a leader, is committed to peaceful and democratic means to pursue Basque independence and social justice.

Regional elections are scheduled for September 25 in the Basque Country.

Responding to the court decision, Otegi said: “We won't accept that the state says who can and who can't represent the Basque people.”

Pablo Iglesias, leader of the left-wing Podemos party, tweeted: “Basques are the ones who should decide who represents them in parliament.”

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